Artists Art Issues Exhibitions About Us Search

Art & Theory
Interactivity & Ritual: Body Dialogues with Artificial Systems - Part 1 of 3
by Diana Domingues

Bookmark and Share


Interactive technologies are providing us with dialogues between the body and artificial systems that allow for the acquisition and communication of biological signals with machines signals. Interfaces and computers capture, manage, and give back signals emitted by the body. Bodies that are connected to devices experience flows from electronic databases. To interact is to repeat certain behaviors, much like we repeat during rituals. When connected, the body is swallowed by technologies and thus has a dialogue with the artificial systems and their silicon brains. By interacting, we amplify our capacity to think, dream, and understand our human condition as enhanced by digital technologies. We can attempt propagations of identities mediated by technologies, and receive other powers as human beings.

Within interactive installations, we inhabit technological environments whose behaviors have been previously defined to receive body actions. Different sorts of interfaces are prepared by artists in collaboration with scientists and technicians in order to offer interactivity as new forms of life. Within these environments, the body needs to act and provoke the system. The entire working body sends signals, the system is activated, and the responses modify the environment. Connected to a computer by interfaces, the body is responsible for the life of the environment. The body acts inside a room and triggers the body's communication to system. The body's behaviors, together with the system's behaviors, determine the work of the installation whose interactive system receives some sort of signal. Participants' performances are concrete experiences that provoke, grow, change, and advance into different stages of the "environment life" in which someone does something and then the interactive artificial system responds. To break is to interrupt ththe communication. To start, to repeat, or to vary some kind of behavior is to develop other system responses.

A new sort of life appears within an environment that is an interactive system. This whole world is created by the total performance of biological and artificial signals. It means that the life of the installation is created by the system connections. The art of interactive installations is related to the complex process of the system and body performance. I consider our flesh apparatus as an intelligent system that is linked to the whole cosmos - mind, consciousness, and spirit are the software of this intelligent body. Being part of the system confirms the body's holistic natural condition. In the heart of a system, the quality of the parts and their tasks disappear when they are working. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. The whole is comprised of the multitude of connections within - the very context and concept of the ecosystem.

Interactive installations as open-ended systems are broadening our existential field and changing our cognition about the world. The interfaces are synthetic bodies, and like our sensorial apparatus, they receive and then return to us the most incredible sensations. When we are connected, our body experiments a complex process of mutations, unpredictability, and dissipations that give us new identities. Now technologies embody traces from the biological world by translating them into computerized paradigms, such as plants, human body signals and gestures, speech, breath, heat, natural noises, and water. Touching, breathing, walking, experiencing algorithmic paradigms, infrared sensors, and electrical waves provide us with the power to manage invisible forces during the many experiences of conscious propagation in a symbiosis of organic/inorganic life. With new biological interfaces such as prostheses attached to us and in our bodies, we are reinventing our lives and the ultimate nature of our species.

Each installation proposes a strong behavioral dimension of interactive art. Immersed within the environment, the body carries with it all its cognitive activity and connects it to the complex cognition of the artificial system. The relationships are generated inside the room and in cyberspace through information processed within the computer's circuits and networks. Flows are created by information circulating in the artificial architectures of networks and sub-networks connected to human mental architectures. Interactive installations are "living" environments where a system of acquisition and transmission of data allows us to immerse ourselves into virtual worlds. Interfaces and networks recognize patterns and interpret signals from biological systems that translate them into computing paradigms. By interacting, we experience multiple data options.

1 of 2 pages     next page

back to issues